WASHINGTON — After a Friday night home loss to the Dallas Stars, their second in as many games, the Washington Capitals closed their locker-room doors and conducted a players-only meeting.

What was said behind those doors stayed private, but the Capitals went public with their response, shutting down the red-hot Boston Bruins with a 2-0 victory Sunday night at the Verizon Center.

The win, fueled by 32 saves from goaltender Braden Holtby and goals from defensemen John Carlson and Nate Schmidt, halted a two-game skid for the Capitals (37-23-10) and moved them into sole possession of the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

“It was a desperate game, we needed this game really bad,” said Schmidt, who netted his first goal of the season while playing in place of veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik, sidelined for a third straight game by a lower-body injury. “We played a playoff team and we wanted to see where we were at.”

The Bruins (36-23-10) saw their 7-0-1 points streak end with the loss, which dropped them two points behind the Capitals with one game in hand. The Bruins are now five points ahead of the Ottawa Senators in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the East.

“I think our guys put up a good effort today and unfortunately you come up short,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “But it wasn’t from a lack of trying. I think overall we had a decent effort.”

Holtby, who was pulled after allowing four goals in Friday night’s loss to the Stars, was solid throughout the game, shutting the door on the Bruins on a pair of third-period power plays and benefitting from 11 teammates blocking 26 shots.

Holtby’s shutout was his career-high eighth of the season and second against the Bruins. He also blanked them 4-0 on Oct. 11.

“That’s a character win for him,” Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “I don’t know how goalies are wired mentally, but I know he was really good tonight and that was a good response by him and the team.”

The Bruins scored the first goal of the game in each of their previous 11 games, but the Capitals recorded 10 of the game’s first 11 shots and struck first when Carlson blasted a point shot past Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask 12:43 into the opening period.

“I don’t know if we were ready for that or not,” said Rask, who stopped 36 of 38 shots, “but they definitely came out hard and piled up some shots in the first five minutes.”

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom picked up his first of two assists on Carlson’s goal, moving him past Michal Pivonka and into the franchise’s all-time assist lead with 419.

Capitals right winger Tom Wilson, who was promoted to the top line with left winger Alex Ovechkin and Backstrom, drew a roughing penalty on Brad Marchand to set up the power-play goal by Carlson. Wilson finished with a game-high six hits, all of them coming in the first two minutes.

The Capitals built on their lead with 6:23 remaining in the second period when Schmidt netted his first goal of the season. This time it was Wilson creating traffic in front of Rask to set up the goal, which caromed off the glove of Bruins center Gregory Campbell and past Rask, who lost for the first time since Feb. 24.

“(The Capitals) are a big, strong, heavy team,” Bruins center Chris Kelly said. “They’ve got some big guys that compete well and they’ve got (defensemen) that can move the puck and obviously, a goalie that’s playing well.”

NOTES: The Bruins and Capitals play once more this season on April 8 in Washington. … D Zdeno Chara played in his 652nd game with the Bruins, tying Ken Hodge (England) for most games played by a non-North American player in team history. … The Bruins return home to face the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, followed by a three-game road trip to Ottawa, Florida and Tampa.